NCSC International strategic plan set to strengthen judicial systems, expand reach
Opportunities to help strengthen judicial systems globally are growing even as democracies face renewed threats from rising authoritarianism and government corruption, according to NCSC International Vice President Jeff Apperson and Senior Legal Counsel Timothy Hughes.
Those opportunities have shaped the division’s recently completed five-year strategic plan, which calls for expansion into more countries and closely aligns with NCSC’s commitment to the rule of law nationwide and worldwide.
“With this strategic plan, we want the court community to know that we understand the importance of establishing strong democratic institutions globally, " Apperson said. “Judicial branches in emerging democracies need a lot of help, and we want to strengthen them.”
The plan, called Global Justice Campaign 2022-2026, consists of three strategic objectives:
- Promote democracy and economic stability, ensure fairness and truth, protect individual rights, and expand citizen access to justice by strengthening justice institutions and the rule of law, in partnership with donor organizations.
- Integrate NCSC-developed judicial administration and access to justice best practices into international rule of law reform initiatives.
- Foster collaborative relationships with international justice sector partners that expand NCSC global engagement and innovation in advancing the rule of law and improving the administration of justice.
The International Division typically works in about two dozen countries a year on a wide range of programs. For example, it recently:
- Completed a five-year effort to help courts in the northern African nation of Tunisia become more efficient and accessible.
- Produced a report to show Malaysia how to strengthen its judiciary; and
- Partnered with organizations and agencies in Central and South America to expand juvenile drug courts in Colombia, promote holistic responses to gender-based violence in Costa Rica, and support efforts to improve the administration of justice in Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama.
Apperson said gloomy headlines of democracies teetering on the brink of collapse don’t discourage him. He added that democracies have always been in peril and there will always be a need for assistance.
“We have a good base of opportunity right now. We want to expand on it,” Apperson said. “We want to be considered not just a program developer but a leader in strengthening the rule of law and justice administration abroad. This strategic plan maps out how we’ll do it.”
Read about eviction diversion in Times essay
In an essay recently published by The New York Times, D.C. Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht urged courts to embrace eviction diversion programs.
“Prevention and diversion programs enable courts to serve as a path toward stability,” wrote Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby and Chief Justice Hecht. “By holding virtual hearings, proactively sending tenants information about legal aid and rental assistance and slowing down the eviction process to give both tenants and landlords time to access those resources, courts ensure that their process is as fair as possible to all involved.”
Both court leaders sit on the advisory council for NCSC’s Eviction Diversion Initiative. The guest essay appeared online and in the Sunday, Jan. 16 print edition.